Sunday, 20 October 2013

Castilla y León – Salamanca I.

During our week in Madrid Paul had to work during the day so I decided to do some day trips out of the city. During our stay in this lovely country probably this is my only chance to visit some famous places in central Spain and Salamanca was the first on my list. It is a great day trip from Madrid as even though the train ride is quite long (2.5h) the Old Town which in 1988 was declared as a UNESCO world heritage city, is relatively compact and can be visited in a day. I found a great walking tour on the internet here and used that as a guide for my visit. But before I launch into the wonders of Salamanca, let me show you a typical landscape of Castilla y León that I saw from the train.

The tour started at Plaza Mayor. This square with its 88 arches and baroque style is said to be the most beautiful in Spain and I completely agree with that. I have seen a few Plaza Mayors during this half a year and this one wins above all. This is also the place for the Tourist Information where you can pick up a map and any other info you need about the town.

Colegio Arzobispo Fonseca (Irlandeses)
You just keep walking from the Palacio Monterrey and on the next corner you stumble upon another great building that again, contains a college. This was built at the beginning of the 16th century and was founded by the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela. As there were many Irish emigrants studying amongst these walls it’s also called the ‘Irish College’.

Iglesia de Sancti-Spiritus
After a few minutes walk you see the spires of another church, this is the Iglesia de Sancti-Spiritus. It’s very imposing and the narrow street in front of it makes it even more so. The façade is baroque therefore very elaborate and I personally found it slightly overwhelming. The rest of the building houses a university faculty.

La Casa de las Conchas
Now this is a house that makes an impression on everybody. The walls are decorated with lots of scallop shells or ‘conchas’, this is why it’s called ‘The house of shells’. The original owner of this 15th century Gothic palace was a doctor at the court and a member of the Order of Santiago which explains the choice of decoration. Nowadays it’s a public library but visitors are welcome to have a look at its lovely courtyard. From inside you can see the spires of the Two Cathedrals.

Plaza de Anaya
This lovely square has benches and trees to offer a place of rest and shade for the visitor. On the left stands the town’s only neoclassical building, the Palacio de Anaya with its own chapel. It now serves as the Faculty of Languages.

I will continue the blog about Salamanca tomorrow. I finish off this one with some more photos of the streets of this lovely town.  

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